A California widow is suing the federal government after police at a Veteran Affairs hospital allegedly beat her husband and stomped on his carotid artery, causing him to have a stroke and die.
Norma Montano claims in the lawsuit filed Friday that her husband, Jonathan Montano, grew irritated after waiting for four hours for dialysis on May 25, 2011, at a VA hospital in Loma Linda, a local Fox affiliate reported.
The lawsuit comes as VA hospitals face a nationwide audit over alleged misconduct and excessive wait times for veterans that may have led to dozens of unnecessary deaths.
The suit claims Mr. Montano decided he wanted to leave Loma Linda and try to get treated at the Long Beach VA, but he didn’t want to first remove the shunt from his arm, the station reported. The hospital insisted that the shunt be removed before he left, but Mr. Montano refused. VA Police were called, and his widow claims that a nurse who witnessed the incident told her the police beat her husband and slammed him to the ground, the suit claims.
“This kneeing and stomping on his neck by the VA Police Department police officers caused the dissection of his carotid artery, that resulted in immediate (or very soon thereafter) blood clotting, which resulted in [his] suffering a stroke,” the suit claims, as reported by Courthouse News.
Mr. Montano died two-and-a-half weeks later.
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The hospital and police maintain that Mr. Montano was belligerent and proper measures were taken. The hospital said the veteran fell and hit his head, the Fox affiliate reported.
An investigation concluded in December 2013, and the VA concluded there was “no evidence of negligence or wrongful act or omission by VA employees that resulted in injury to, or the death of, the veteran patient in June 2011. Although a terrible and unfortunate incident occurred, VA personnel acted and responded appropriately,” the station reported.
Mrs. Montano claims the VA police brutalized her husband without any reasonable suspicion that he had committed a crime. She is seeking damages and punitive damages for wrongful death, assault and battery, false imprisonment, constitutional violations, negligence, loss of consortium and intentional infliction of emotional distress, Courthouse News reported.
The widow’s lawsuit comes after lawmakers intensified calls last week for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to investigate the accusations that the VA submitted fake waiting list times in order to bolster its numbers while keeping secret lists of the actual wait times for patients.
• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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